This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Foul Mouth

I have frequently described myself as a "lovable dork with a foul mouth" and for the most part, it's a pretty accurate representation of myself.

I created this blog as a writing outlet but more importantly, if any potential agents/publishers research me in the future, they will see what my writing is: honest. My books are littered with profanity, but only in the certain context. I think back to a passage in Steven King's book "On Writing: A Memoir" in which he says swearing in literature when necessary is perfectly acceptable if not a must. Substituting fake swear words (oh sugar, shut the front door, darn it, fudge, etc.) is insulting to the reader and takes away from character development.

In my own life though, this theory can somewhat apply to my daily choice of language. I never swear at work, in public places (loudly...), in front of my young siblings, in front of company or my parents (excluding the occasional slip-up of "bitch"), or in any professional situation. Why? I'm not an idiot. With my friends though, they best be anticipating plenty of f-bombs and other colorful words filling the air. My friends have learned over the years--especially my high school friends who have been dealing with this for six+ years--that attempting to censor or lower my voice in general is futile.

I swear because I want to, not because I think it makes me seem cool or edgy. For fuck's sake, I'm twenty years old and that excuse for my coarse language is only usable for pubescent teens. For some reason though, some believe this isn't a good enough reason and I'm not even trying to argue the shitty, "Free speech, man, free speech!" point which has been beaten to death repeatedly. Yes, I can understand that I should watch my language on my Facebook page since I am in my twenties now and should be treating it more professionally. Yet what does that have to do with my own life?

Many hate the idea of swearing because of the social acceptability. I have never understood the problem since being afraid of a word or series of words is beyond ridiculous. Words can hurt and certain ones said in anger can hurt more than anything. For me, I can never utter the n-word and even reading it in a book is uncomfortable, and the c-word still makes me cringe and I was surprised by its commonality on college campuses.

Though above all of these words, I believe the one that hurts me the most is "whore." Am I saying I've been called this before? Sure, many girls have (which is just the start of the issue), but when said in complete sincerity it can dig deep. Slut, on the other hand, I feel is a word girls can take now and make positive as women of a post-feminist era. This however is different than me screaming "FUCK!" when I stub my toe or run into something (which does happen far too frequently).

I think what I'm trying to say is this: "fuck" is my favorite word in the English language; I have mad respect for this magical four letter word. If I was writing an honors thesis and could somehow do one that wasn't Creative Writing, it would be on the history and development of "fuck" throughout the years. It can be an adjective, verb, noun, pronoun, adverb, and pretty much any part of speech. Yet the use of this one-syllable utterance can cause huge waves in the world. I find this hilarious.

Anywho, this post has ended up being more scrambled than I hoped, so here are the points I think I was trying to make:

1) Swear words are words, period.

2) Words can hurt, so chose yours carefully.

3) Speak how you want to as long as you are not harming anyone else, including yourself.

4) Don't swear in professional situations or in front of family because, like many other things, we change ourselves to be more reserved in this company for our own image (professional) and sanity (family).

5) Think about how you're using said words and if you are doing it to get a reaction or try to seem cool. If you are and above the age of twelve, ...I have nothing to say.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"All We've Got" -Story Idea

Looking at my schedule for this semester and am pretty happy with it: Topics in Film and Literature, Creative Writing, Basic Acting, Intro to Earth Science, and World of Cicero (i.e. Latin III). The film class will be great because it focuses on analyzing films I've been meaning to see, like American Beauty, and because I love any excuse to watch some movies. Basic Acting will be a good test to see if I really do have a passion for theater or if that flame is gone. Intro to Earth Science is...well, its the last science I ever need to take, so thank the Lord Jesus Christ for that. I took Earth Science in high school and absolutely hated it; hopefully college Earth Science will be a tad more interesting. World of Cicero is one I am worried about because I struggled with independent study for Latin I and II the last couple years. What if I'm far behind my classmates? The professor is the wife of a professor I had for a seminar freshman year, so if she is anything like her husband I think I'll be okay.

Creative Writing will be interesting since its almost a slap in the face to take another basic class instead of one of the advanced courses reserved for the Creative Writing Track students. I love writing classes though and am looking forward to trying one besides Fiction Writing. Looking at the course description however, and seeing I'll have to come up with another story idea. That is on top of coming up with one for the Creative Writing Track application if I decide to reapply. October 11th is the deadline, so my dreams better start getting more helpful.

Speaking of dreams, I had one earlier this last semester that I'm thinking would be a good book premise. I would use it as one of my short story ideas, but the development of the characters that I want to create will need more than five or ten pages. This story (which I will write after my current one, Kay Kiyou, and after all the Mystieks books) will be the first one I do that has two equally important main characters and will focus heavily on each person's arch over the course of the novel. Besides Sir in Kay Kiyou, none of my stories are about digging into the psyche of a character (Autumn to a certain extent, but not in the same way). I'm also thinking the story shows my growth from plot-driven to character-driven.

The idea came to me in a dream I had January 29th, 2011; the next morning I ran to my computer to get it all down before I forgot. Most of my story ideas (except Kay Kiyou) come to me in a series of dreams--like Autumn Leaves---or one hugely detailed dream--like the first Mystieks--which is great and horrible at the same time. Great because my subconscious does most of the work, horrible because I have to sit around and wait for my dreams to become useful. Anywho, enough babbling, here is the rough idea, a bit scattered, but here goes nothing:

All We've Got
Story of two siblings, brought together by the rapidly declining health of their father. Brother and sister, Joseph and Josephine, had their mother die shortly after Josephine was born and their father, devastated, turned to alcohol and was thus emotionally absent most of their lives. The brother and sister are grown now--Josephine is 28 and Joseph is 30--both single and struggling with their individual lives. The siblings had an on again/off again relationship growing up and as life threw as much as it could at each, they grow further apart and deeper in their resentment toward each other.

Josephine: Josephine remembers from a young age being sent off to friends' houses many times by her older brother whom she looked up to for much of her young life. At the age of 16, she was raped by a group of her classmates one night when Joseph was late picking her up from school; he has stayed late to practice with his band. Josephine still blames her brother for her rape, for her subsequently dropping out of school at 17, and for turning to prostitution when she was kicked out of the house since Joseph wasn't there to protect her (her father heard she had sex with five men at once [i.e. her rape]). Josephine says she turned to prostitution because it was the only job she could find but in fact she was afraid that after the rape, it was the only thing in which she could ever succeed. Her dreams of becoming a ballet dancer were ruined that night when her foot was brutally broken in the rape, just days before an important dance school audition. After getting HIV from a "client" at the age of 24, she turned to stripping and still does as well as bartending during the day.

Joseph: Joseph knew his father blamed Josephine for their mother's death and that he frequently went to beat her. Afraid of her fate, Joseph made sure she was out of the house when their father went into a violent rage and took the beatings for his sister. As they grew older, Joseph spent much of his time staying home and caring for his sister and father, bypassing many opportunities to advance his career with his band as a guitarist/singer. Once 18, Joseph moved out of the house, resenting Josephine for holding him back. He worked odd jobs until he was 20 when a record label contacted him saying they had heard his music and wanted to sign him, but as a solo artist. Filled with greed, he abandoned his band mates at a chance for fame. After a fight with his sister when she was 21 that revealed her dark past, Joseph was overcome with guilt and resentment toward his sister for still affecting his life so much that he turned to cocaine; he lost his record deal after only three years. Homeless for almost four years, he's just starting to get back on his feet, working at a coffee shop and teaching guitar lessons on the side.

Josephine: She did realize the sacrifices her brother made after seeing her father's temper firsthand following her brother's move-out. After a year on the streets, she took her brother's old demo to one of her clients, a major music tycoon with rage issues of his own.

Joseph: Once Josephine finally told him what happened to her when she was young, he tracked down the men who attacked his baby sister and violently scarred each man; the attack is what eventually triggered his drug abuse. He wanted to leave each with a constant reminder of the harm they caused years ago.

Josephine and Joseph go back and forth, ruining their own lives and blaming the other for their losses while still doing whatever possible to help their sibling. The story ends with their father dying and brother and sister feeling a sense of relief, for they realize the source of their burden stemmed from him. They look to strengthen a bond that, though always there, was shielded by years of anger and guilt. The story aims to show that the bond between brother and sister is powerful and one that can withstand life's tribulations.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

All the World's a Stage.

Since I was young I saw my life as a movie. Upon reflection, it was probably a defense mechanism to alter my reality into a fantastical world where the hero always wins and someone gets fucked. Good triumphs over evil. Light conquers the darkness. Those years when I was in that web of deception, abuse, and utter confusion were partially shielded from my consciousness by my creativity.

Yes, I have been told countless times that I'm a creative person, but it's a compliment that many do not take seriously. Recently someone told me I have an "incredibly vivid imagination" (the context it was in is not important at the moment...) and teachers have never been lacking in their praise for my ability to spin a bullshit tale. The significance of this imagination of mine--besides the fact that I'm hoping it will help me realize my dreams and support me (to some degree) financially--was not known to me until earlier this summer when I was driving through Whitefish Bay.

My hometown has the nickname of "Tree City USA" and though I have a feeling that it bestowed this title upon itself in its own pretentiousness, there is a tree every couple feet. On some streets the trees are thicker and higher, and others they are more spread out. My favorite streets though are the ones that have trees with long, wispy branches that bend toward the road creating a canopy above your head.

On this one street in the village, when you come up over a moderately sized hill, the sun shines through the leaves perfectly. As you drive down the street, the leaves and branches seem to pull back, revealing the next tree behind it. The leaves continue like this until you reach my house and the trees are all standing relatively straight.

To the average person, this would be any other obnoxiously manicured avenue in my town, but I see something different. I see fans. They're large, extravagant, feather fans pulling away faster and faster to reveal the main event on the stage. It makes me feel like I'm a Broadway star about to have her first moment in the spotlight, or any star having a huge breakthrough. There's this magic in those branches and the nature-produced stage.

I frequently have a soundtrack going for my life and think of songs that would work perfectly with any moment. Many, especially my sister, tell me how cliche I can be when it comes to sentiments. Singing to my mirror can go on for hours and when I'm alone, I constantly talk to myself.

My life is a movie but as I've gotten older, I've learned that the movie doesn't always end the way you want. Sometimes, the music slows as the romantic lead walks away dramatically. Other times, everything stops and the main character falls to her knees in silent hysterics. And other times still, the audience checks their phones wondering why certain scenes are taking so goddamn long.

The thing is though, I'm okay with my life being a bit of reality and fantasy. The story doesn't end after 130 minutes and there are no credits...yet. My movie, play, musical of the century is still going strong. I love that I sometimes see the world through rose-colored glasses, because so much of the time I focus on the shit surrounding me.

It's a pretty good show so far if I do say so myself: great secondary characters, moving music, compelling plot, plenty of wit and humor, shocking (yet slightly predictable) twists along the journey, and of course a charismatic protagonist.

Damn, it would cost a hell of a lot more than $14 for that in 3-D.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Accepting What the Mirror Spits Back

Turns out, my "brother's" laptop (pretty sure it's the family one but he insists that I am misinformed) is sitting around fairly often so I may still be able to post regularly until the first couple weeks of school.

I was thinking today while cleaning the kitchen cabinets about girls and the dreaded identity crisis (I would talk about boys but since I have a female brain and interact with them more regularly, I will focus on the she). From a young age I remember being told daily by my mother how beautiful and special I was, but quickly learned that it was only okay when someone else said it to you; you yourself were not supposed to run around proclaiming your awesomeness to the world. Never understanding this social grace but wanting to conform to it, I made and still do make an effort to compliment friends, family, and strangers.

Sometimes people think I'm lying or am seeking a compliment in return, but in reality I simply like pointing out people's strong points. Seriously, how awesome do you feel when your dad notices your new dress, when your friend tells you how funny you are, or when a random guy at the bookstore tells you you're hot? The best. We seek constant praise but seem incapable of praising ourselves.

Where, I wonder, along the way did it become not okay to love who you are? There are a nauseating number of books, blogs, magazine articles, and movies about this issue, but are they really? The movies portray people changing and then becoming accepted. The articles feel unrealistic with the proclamation what you're unique...just like everyone else. We tell children they can be whoever they want as long as they try, but as they grow older we tell them how to change.

I have always been bothered by the obsession with tanning beyond the fact that it is horrible for your skin. Tanning lotions and spray tans aren't much better since they are still perpetuating the idea that darkened skin is healthy and that those that do tan are a symbol of great skin care. I have obnoxiously pale skin and embrace it.

Why do I never see celebrities or movie stars with glasses? I got glasses in 8th grade and have never had the desire to wear contacts or get eye surgery. My mom got it and suggested I do the same some day, but why change that? I think glasses can be sexy if worn with confidence. I wish people with eye problems would embrace their spectacles.

I hate on myself all the time like many other girls I know and the worst part of these negative comments we tell ourselves is that we are counteracting any praise others show us.

"Who cares if you're a size five? Your stomach looks like shit."
"You see that pimple? Everyone else can."
"That girl over there is so much hotter than you. No wonder you're single."
"Why do you talk so much? Just shut up."
"You annoy everyone with your constant perkiness, just calm down!"
"You just don't have 'it' and that's why boys ignore you."

See?! No matter how many times my dad, stepmom, friends, sister, or anyone tells me good things about myself, these comments manage to weasel their way in. Yet what about the things I like about myself? Is it okay to like my personality and how I look, or is that conceited?

When I was thirteen and in the darkest years of my depression, I remember making myself say three positive things about me on the way to school, physical and personality wise. If all you girls out there could try this now and again when you're feeling down, I can promise it'll make a difference. I don't know any magical cure to make those pestering negatives go away, but I do know how to fight back. Let me try for today:
"You have an adorable dimple on your right cheek when you smile."
"You have great legs."
"You may be little, but you're fun-sized."
"You're hilarious; listen when people tell you that you're funny."
"You're a good writer and you know it. Own that."
"You are smart and you are worth it."

So there you have it, my positives for today. Hopefully anyone who reads this can try doing the same for themselves. Don't let fucked up people tell you that you're less that amazing, because everyone is beautiful in their own way.

And I promise you, that is not bullshit.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lack Of Laptop Leads to Reflections

Yup, that's right: I spilled a whole cup of tea on my wonderful laptop, my lifeline and my baby. After two days in a fucking huge bag of rice (which was unsuccessful because I forgot to remove the battery first...), my step-mom's IT people at her work concluded the motherboard was fried. All my writing, pictures, and what not though, were saved. THANK THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Lesson for the nth time: always always always back up your shit. I did on a flash drive, but my dad says now is the time for an external hard drive as well as some internet program that stores your files online. Still, I am thankful my stuff has been saved.

I have reevaluated my goals for this summer, mainly the funny notion of having any. I cannot work when I am bored or not busy (i.e. Ireland) and thus my plan to finish Autumn Leaves has failed miserably. It needs to get done before I graduate; this goal I have always had at the back of my mind. I psych myself out with these shorter term goals that I rarely meet and am disappointed when I fall short.

Last summer was stressful, for various reasons, and my mind refused to focus. This summer has been amazing in that I've gotten to see my friends so often and had some great mini-adventures. Nevertheless, my reverse culture shock and my constant sadness of the absence of my former Irish home and my Irish friends has left me apathetic about my work. I can still close my eyes and open them, expecting to wake up on my creaky mattress in my grim apartment. I can still see the smiles on my friends faces and the glow of the low lights in the pub on Wednesday nights. I can still look up and anticipate random bouts of rain and bothersome mist. I can still taste the bitter, fruity aftertaste of the 5euro wine I drank so frequently. I can still feel his hand around my waist and how happy I was in Cork...

I do find myself remembering random stories and wanting to share them with someone, but am working harder now at stopping myself to keep my friends from stabbing me while yelling, "Stop fucking talking about Ireland!" If I keep it up, it's bound to happen, I'm sure. Anyways, I decided I'd write a couple of my random memories from the semester down here. I don't know how frequent my posts will be with no steady computer and recruitment stuff coming up quickly, but here's a little something for now:

I remember the first day of school at UCC and calling my dad at 11am Irish time (hadn't quite gotten used to subtracting 6 hours for US central time...), sobbing hysterically about how homesick I was and that he had to get me home now. I looked fucking ridiculous and had many students staring at me in the Student Centre. Eventually I pulled myself together, but on the walk home from classes that day I started feeling like shit; my roommate had gotten the stomach flu and now so had I. Not that great of a first day if I do say so myself.

I remember my first couple trips to the climbing wall and my first hike with the Mountaineering Club, how nervous and awkward I was per usual. In awe, I watched the other club members climb the wall like total beasts and run down the mountainsides like experts. I thought to myself, "Well, fuck, none of these people will end up being my friends. I can only pretend to be athletic for so long." Little did I know that I wasn't fooling anyone and for some reason, they still wanted my company. Perhaps having the talkative, scrawny, feisty American around was good for the club's morale, but whatever the reason I was thankful.

I remember leaving for our trip across Europe with my next-door-neighbor Natalie and the first day in Paris. We wandered without a clue and carrying our luggage around aimlessly. The next day when my roommate Cassie joined us, that nap we took in our friend's dorm room was the best thing in the world. How the hell Natalie and I were able to sleep like ying-yang on that tiny mattress with our clothing as a pillow, I will never know.

Naps are particularly memorable parts of our trip for how much we looked forward to them. When in Vienna staying with our couchsurfing hosts, we walked in that first morning and saw one futon and four of us. After some squabbling about who was a "big spoon" or a "little spoon" (by the way, I was sort of born to be a little spoon since I practically sleep bunched up in a ball), we all were packed together, side-by-side, like sardines.

I remember that night we got back from Turkey into Cork and decided we were going to go surprise our friends at the pub. I ran in with one of the girls to drop off our luggage and left the taxi stalled outside. When I got back in the taxi after quickly spraying a bit of perfume on, my roomie Alicia squealed, "Oh my God, you smell so good!" It was that moment that we realized how stale and nasty we all smelled/looked. I have a strange feeling that we were (except for a couple of the guys) more excited to see everyone than they were. It was like any other Wednesday night and that familiarity after all our insanity was so comforting.

Yes, I remember plenty of sad moments as well or good memories that tug at my heart strings, but these make me smile. I hope I'm getting to the point, slowly but surely, where I can smile back on those amazing five months instead of sulking about how it is over. I'm more in the moment about the summer now (not such great timing since it's almost over) and though I may not be as blissfully happy as I was with all my friends there, I am still feeling pretty good with the occasional sighting of my old friends around these parts. They make me feel like I'm in high school again, and I know I'd be lost without them. I just hope they don't end up stabbing me before these next few weeks are up...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Borderline Problematic Obsession

Harry Potter. As many adults around my age, the series was fundamental in our upbringing and childhood in general. For me, the books were what kept me sane for many of my childhood years.

I remember reading the first two in school with my third grade class and having my mom purchase me the third book that Christmas...only to forget about it on a shelf in our living room. The following year I went to the public library for a book reading, which just so happened to be the opening chapter to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My mom refused to buy it for me until I finished the one collecting dust on the book shelf. I thought this was incredibly unfair at the time, but finished the third one within a week and the fourth within another when my mom made good on her promise.

When I got to high school, I was surrounded by people who were not afraid to admit their obsession with the boy wizard. My 15th birthday, I brought a cake and decorations to the Quad at school in Harry Potter theme. After Daniel Radcliffe was on stage for Equus in the nude, my friends posted photos of him by the bubbler knowing people would assume it was me due to my intense crush on the actor. I got replica wands my 16th birthday as well as a t-shirt and scarf the following Christmas.

By my sophomore year, by mania was in full force. I had created the small DDIND club (Dumbledore Is Not Dead, or "dind") with some of my theater friends, even though we were sadly proven wrong the next summer with the release of the seventh book. I discovered mugglenet.com that year as well as MuggleCast, the weekly podcast that I would download onto my iPod every Thursday or Friday. My iPod was one of those brick, first generation ones that died the minute you turned on the neon blue backlight. It was so old I would have to plug it into my speakers, insert my headphones, and sit there to listen. Those were some of my happiest after school hours.

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, you can believe that I was there and for some reason was one of the only people over the age of ten in costume. I thought to myself, "Move over bitches, you weren't even born when the first book was published! Get to the back of the fucking line!" But I, not being a complete asshole, controlled myself. I even got on the news for my Ravenclaw ensemble and still have the news segment saved on our TV (my mother being in the background is another added bonus to the footage).

For the fourth, fifth, and sixth, I read the books as fast as possible. Usually locking myself in my room or in the attic with a box of Cheez-Its, I would read furiously and become agitated by the necessity of things like sleep and meals. Yet for the seventh I took my time and stretched my reading period out to a whole week. My books are still in my bedside table, with many illegible scribblings, highlighting, and dog-eared pages. I had a notebook full of my own theories for the seventh book and of the philosophical, ethical, and historical, and mythological references/aspects of the books individually and as a cohesive piece.

In my senior year of high school, I created the Harry Potter Book Club (which consisted of me as president, sophomores Alexia and Katerina as VP and secretary respectively, and junior Sarah as treasurer) which actually attracted more members than I had anticipated. The club continued on for two more years after I graduated and they even went on to create their own t-shirts. The sophomores in that club with me its first year just graduated in May which is frightening to me; I remember them in their capes and plastic wands by the Art Wing on one of the last days of my senior year reenacting the final battle at Hogwarts.

With the second part of the seventh movie almost here and the recent discovery of my old cape in our basement, my sentimental and nostalgic side in regards to the series has resurfaced. I've been in love with Daniel Radcliffe since I was eleven years old (most successful relationship thus far, boo yah!) and in love with reading since those school days in Mrs. Brooks' third grade class.

Oh, Harry Potter, I would not nearly be as nerdy as I am today without you.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Want You to Know I am My Hair!

Me and my hair...a touchy subject as many know by now. It is unbelievably thick, yet straight. Since a young age I've kept it short because it is easier to take care of, style, wash, and live with on a day to day basis. This does not mean, though, that my hair was always as short as it has been in the past couple years.

When I was young, I remember being in Ballet/Jazz classes and having to tie up my hair into a bun; it was just long enough to tie up, but too short to be done smoothly. I would have to bend over a chair so my hair would hang off the edge and my mom (and the teacher sometimes) would have to squeeze my shortish locks into a ponytail holder, which never held long since my hair was so heavy. I remember the headaches I would get with that hair pulled tightly at the back of my scalp to keep from slipping.

When I was in grade school, the crimping craze of the late 90's hit and my sister had a crimping birthday party. You can imagine what the photos of my crimped hair looked like: an electrified lion that just saw a ghost. In my 4th grade school picture, I wanted my mom to curl my hair like some of my friends were for there's. She did, though she warned me it might not turn out like the other girls' thinner hair. She was right; the curls bunched into two giant curls on either side of my head, making me look like a fucking ram.

At the age of eleven, a stylist at my hair salon requested using me in a hair styling piece in a local magazine since its texture intrigued him. "Cool!" I thought, "I'll be famous for my hair!" Unfortunately for me this stylist had no experience with my type of hair and kept cutting...and cutting and cutting. Soon he realized that as you cut thick hair like mine, it expands. I ran out of the place in tears and endured much teasing from classmates. My brother, six at the time, told me I looked like an alien.

By the time I hit high school, I had found a hair style with which I was comfortable and stuck with it for years. At every step of the way though, there was someone telling me to grow it out and how amazing it would look. Nothing irritated me more than being told by people that they knew better. To me, it felt as if the people were saying, "It's not good enough." How dare they?! How dare they try and squander what I worked for years to find, some stability on top?

Now though, my theory is more of "What the hell!" What do I really have to lose? So I'm growing out my crazy ass, strawberry blonde with a tint of brown, thick hair. No, I am not doing it because people have been asking me to for years, or because I think it looked horrible before. I liked and still do like my hair short, but at the age of twenty I think it's time to take a chance. I need a change in my life and I hear the best place to start is externally, with hair and clothing. Clothing is a work in progress (here's to hoping my sorority sisters can help me a bit on that front) and the hair? Longer now than I remember it being for about four years.

My face looks strange right now with my lopsided puffy cheeks from losing the wisdom teeth, but I'm liking the hair so far. Maybe once it gets long enough, I can get it cut/styled a bit to try something really new. I'm excited at the prospect of a change...and I like where it's taking me.